Practice/Retail Name: Eye Care Associates
City, State: Triangle region near Raleigh, N.C.
Number of Locations: 12
Key executives: Steve Bolick, OD, founder and chief executive officer; Bob Brodney, president
Year founded: 1978

RALEIGH, N.C.--Eye Care Associates, a major eyecare provider and retailer in North Carolina’s Triangle region, is implementing several new technology initiatives aimed at improving efficiency and profitability. Most recently, the company has been rolling out a new phone system using a local voiceover IP (Internet Provider). Patients can now use a single, toll-free number to contact Eye Care Associates. The phone number, which appears in Eye Care Associates’ ads, enables the company to centrally receive calls to any of its 12 locations, schedule appointments to any office, and forward calls to any location.

Above, one of Eye Care Associates 12 locations. Below, an optometrist takes notes on the Exam Writer tablet from Officemate.

“It gives us a seamless approach both from a marketing and patient standpoint, and it helps us control costs,” said company president Bob Brodney.

Eye Care Associates’ Web site,, is another example of how the company uses technology to be more “patient-centric,” Brodney said. The interactive site includes a patient satisfaction survey which gets responses at the rate of 10 percent-a-month.

Although some of the company’s technology applications are transparent to patients, they still reap the benefits. One such application involves submitting e-claims for insurance through a system called RealMed.

“The benefits are faster turnaround time and less errors due to the scrubbing process, which kicks back a claim if there’s an error. The system eliminates double entry of claims. Fundamentally, there’s less paper. We get cash faster, and the greater accuracy leads to us getting more cash back.”

For practice management software, Eye Care Associates relies on CC Systems, a division of Officemate. Their software enables the company to centralize patient, product and scheduling information. “We can look up a frame at any office, or schedule a patient at any office,” said Brodney. “I know by location how many exams we did yesterday, how many complete pairs of glasses we sold, how many retinal photos we took, all the key performance indicators. First thing in the morning I know how we did yesterday.”

Eye Care Associates is currently rolling out the Exam Writer, a new product from Officemate that allows doctors to fully document patient charts with greater speed and accuracy.

“Instead of having the doctor hand writing charts, this is a move to EMR (electronic medical records) on a computer or writing tablet,” observed Brodney. “It makes better use of the doctors’ time. It also brings patients closer to the portability of an IHR (individual health record). If a patient goes to a different office, they use the same template and system.”

In the dispensing area, Eye Care Associates utilizes remote tracing technology to improve productivity. Each retail location is outfitted with a National Optronics tracer which sends data to either the company’s surfacing and finishing lab or to another lab, Vision Systems of Virginia, which handles VSP jobs.

“In each of these areas we’ve invested in, we’ve tried to figure out how to become more patient-centric and more efficient and profitable,” said Brodney.

--Andrew Karp